Spotlight: Micheal Alan’s “Fragile Life” @ Yes Gallery
by Michael Kronenberg
Images Courtesy M. Alan, M. Kronenberg
Can Michael Alan’s artwork change the way that we perceive art now? The answer is right on the wall at his solo show “Fragile Life” at Greenpoint’s Yes Gallery through June 15th.
This show is a survey of Alan’s work showing pieces of art selected by Yes in less of a chronology then an survey of various forms of encapsulated energy expressed at different moments in our “Fragile Life.”
The show is intense and filled with a big bag of techniques that amaze your eyeballs and make you question, “How old is this master?” “Did he really grow up in low income housing in NYC?” It’s the work of a genius child.
Alan, a painter/drawer who has been dealing with multiple serious heath issues has sustained himself through the power of creative energy, and the show is a vigorous affirmation of the joy of living, and his strengths as a multi leveled artist. He displays an old time work ethic and a passion for creating that is missing in this time of art created by interns and assistants.
The walls are lined with glowing panels and canvases that encourage close inspection. Each piece of the over 32 on display functions as both an object of visual beauty and a microcosmic universe populated with benevolent beings and scintillating fields of sinuous lines and colors.
A good place to start is with “Eat Life”, an earlier work on wood panel that shows a standing masked figure. The face radiates a complex range of emotions, a fragile smile that also is flavored with trepidation, as if this entity is finding the courage to laugh in spite of the pain of life. If we examine it closely, the beings clothing contains a grinning Cyclops holding a winking billboard that seems to say, “You ain’t seen nothing yet.” The brilliant color and pure, sensual line work that make up this beings body remind us that we are always capable of more then we think we are, and that we are made up out of eternal energy. It’s a beautiful and optimistic reminder to keep the faith.
“Bucket” is a flat out masterpiece, a tightly controlled yet free ranging maelstrom, that’s a master class in mark making. Dense areas of incredibly detailed drawing are somehow floating in a sea of vigorous and brilliantly colored bursts and splattered strokes, it’s a field of frenetic activity that still manages to flow back and forth in a vibratory sea that pulls the eye in and out and around. Serene faces peer out of this maelstrom of activity, rewarding us with their complicated beauties. This highly energetic environment is their natural habitat.
“Everything is Everything” transforms chaotic life into order, a wild sea of information is constrained by huge and fearless brush strokes of pure pigment, that while asymmetrical, still provide a kind of organic, muscular organization. This information forms a chaotic monolith with its own rules, an original geometry is being born on the picture plane.
Perhaps the architects of this transformation are depicted in “Spirits”. A solemn assembly of ancestral archetypes that are somehow melded together in a unified cluster stare serenely out at the viewer. Alan is conducting math and illusions on wood. There is something eternal about their gaze, suggesting that these might be the entities that not only created this wild explosion of activity from the void, and are responsible for it’s maintenance.
These are only a few of the images from this show. I encourage the reader to visit Yes Gallery in person, packing a pith helmet and an open heart. Michael Alan’s art will take you to realms that are un-navigated, and return you to our world with a power packed punch.
I recently had a chance to ask Alan a few questions about his work and process.
Q. What do you want people to take away from the experience of viewing this show?
A. I have no intentions with this show, It’s the gallery’s choice. I don’t even know what works are in it. I remember about ten of them. In general I would like people to be moved by the work and create a conversation about their lives and how to live harder and slow down and look at all the little details. Maybe even someone will sneak and have sex in the bathroom and let me draw them.
Q. What is the meaning of an artist’s life?
A. An artist’s life in general is various just like a human life. There are good, bad and the ugly and sometimes a lovely little Raindrop. Life as a true hearted slave artist is loving all the good and bad and making art non stop, not even taking time to masturbate.
Q. Has your art making process changed over time?
A. Everything changes and everything remains the same. You live on Earth, you die in a box, you eat shit and bugs and fancy pasta. Poop into plastic ziplock bags or rock a great toilet at a fancy hotel while pretending to be a guest. Always ask where your wife went while you steal all the refreshments.
Q. What do you find funny?
A. “Before Jesus died he made a toy, and that was me. I have come to make the world stupid and to make people laugh.”
Visit Michael Alan’s “Fragile Life” exhibit at Greenpoint’s Yes Gallery through June 15th